DURHAM, NC (WNCN) — The City of Durham has a new texting service for residents looking for answers from the city, instead of waiting on hold for a customer service representative.

Durham One Call allows Durham residents to receive answers about certain city services with just one text.

“Oh my goodness! Are you looking for water service, water bill, pay your water bill, disconnect, drinking water– yes, wow,” this was the reaction from Durham resident Sharonda Ocean who said this new service is super convenient.

“Our Durham One Call team is always looking for ways to enhance customer service for our community, and the new texting service shows how we can do this by embracing technology that is used by so many of our residents,” said City Manager Wanda Page. “We now have multiple ways for our residents to seek assistance in a way that suits their lives – by texting, using our free app, submitting online, or by calling our customer service team.”

To use the new service, residents should text a keyword related to their question or concern to 919-813-6315, such as “bulky item” or “water service” or even “pothole.”

“Nobody really wants to call and sit on hold for any amount of time, whether it’s a minute or ten minutes. And so the ability to send a text with a keyword and get a response and suggestions on how to address that issue I think is a great idea,” said Durham resident Andrew Cocowitch.

Charles Hall said he has been in Durham his whole life and this new service is needed— especially for the elderly.

“Myself, I am about to get around at the age of 72, but most of the people who can’t get around should be able to benefit from your service,” Hall said.

The software uses these short keywords to send a response with links to helpful information on the city’s website as well as next steps for submitting a service request. 

The city said they understand everyone uses their phone for various reasons, and this is just one way to meet them halfway. We asked Hall and Cocowitch how often they are on their phones.

“Well I play games– I do a whole lot of stuff on my phone. I would say roughly about eight hours,” Hall shared.

“Probably a little too often, as we all are, unfortunately all day long,” Cocowitch said.

In its first two weeks of use, the text line has received almost 1,000 texts and follows several months of planning and testing led by Durham One Call and the city’s Technology Solutions Department. 

This comes as great news for Instagram influencer Sharonda Ocean.

“Those 30 and 45 minutes that I took or would take on the phone with a customer service representative, I could be using that time for something else,” Ocean said.

For those who would still need more additional details or services they can submit a request online or call Durham One Call at 919-560-1200.

For more information about Durham One Call, click here.